A Mixed Judgment Standard for Surrogate Decision-Making

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 47 (4):540-548 (2022)
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The Substituted Judgment Standard for surrogate decision-making dictates that a surrogate, when making medical decisions on behalf of an incapacitated patient, ought to make the decision that the patient would have made if the patient had decisional capacity. Despite its intuitive appeal, however, SJS has been the target of a variety of criticisms. Most objections to SJS appeal to epistemic difficulties involved in determining what a patient would have decided in a given case. In this article, I offer an alternative standard for surrogate decision-making that avoids these difficulties. I then offer an account of its theoretical underpinnings which shows that it preserves the central moral justification for SJS, namely, respect for patient autonomy.

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Nathan Stout
University Hospitals, Cleveland Medical Center


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